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A late Josh Addo-Carr try for Melbourne has handed Brisbane another close loss this season in a 14-12 contest at AAMI Park.
Tonight was framed around the return of the final piece in the Storm big three, Billy Slater but the defensive effort from the Brisbane Broncos stole the headlines. The visitors repelled a stuttering Storm attack for 78 minutes but a freak try to Josh Addo-Carr with a clinical conversion from Cameron Smith handed them the victory.
Those seated in the southern end of AAMI Park would be forgiven for the sore neck incurred in the first half, as they constantly had to look down the northern end as the Storm dominated possession but the usual slick passing from Cooper Cronk was off the mark.
It was a Cronk pass that set up the first score but for the Broncos. The Queensland half tried to sweep down the left side but his pass hit the grass which allowed James Roberts to sweep it up and run the distance for a surprise 6-nil lead.
The penalties and errors continued for the Broncos as they gifted set after set to the Storm like they needed tackle practice. It took some smart work from captain Smith, as he darted down the short side to put Canadian internation Ryley Jacks across for a maiden NRL try. The only other score came from the boot of Smith for a 8-6 lead to the home side.
For all their possession, Melbourne should've been further ahead but the eagerness of Billy Slater once he entered in the 30th minute, to a wonderful applause broke down a few opportunities for the home side as the timing was off for the star fullback.
In a tense second half, that followed the script of the first as Melbourne dominated possession but couldn't find a breakthrough. It took Brisbane 47 minutes and a few penalties to get a set within the Storm red zone. Dragons bound halfback, Ben Hunt took advantage first with an early tackle for a repeat set then an explosive run behind the ruck, to claw Brisbane ahead again.
Storm thought they had edged ahead in the 68th minute when Will Chambers thought he crossed. The centre had a mercurial night with his hands but looked to stretch across but he rolled the ball down his arm and the bunker denied him.
Vision of the @storm No Try decision in the 67th minute of #NRLStormBroncos. #NRL pic.twitter.com/JOnuApUodg
— NRL Bunker (@NRLBunker) March 16, 2017
The proliferation of penalties from the Broncos late in the contest caught up with them two minutes from time. Two defenders rushed up to cut off the attack but only deflected the ball into the hands of Addo-Carr to lock up the scores. Smith then proceeded to send the home crowd into raptures as the captain slotted his conversion on his wrong side for a tough 14-12 victory to stay undefeated.
For Brisbane, it was a case of close but not close enough once again. They were tenacious in defense but at the vital moment, their discipline cost them, as they slipped to one for three for the season.
Melbourne Storm 14 - Brisbane Broncos 12
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 8 Brisbane Broncos 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cameron Smith
2 points - Ben Hunt
1 points - Jesse Bromwich
MELBOURNE STORM (14)
Tries: Ryley Jacks, Josh Addo-Carr
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (12)
Tries: James Roberts, Ben Hunt
Conversions: Jordan Kahu (2/2)